SAN GABRIEL DEL YUNGUE
The First Capital of New Mexico
“If you are normally curious about New Mexico’s first capitol, begun in 1598, then this must be your primary book, for it was Florence Hawley Ellis who was invited by the Governor of San Juan Pueblo to excavate (in 1959) the site believed to be San Gabriel del Yungue, the first governmental center of New Mexico. The book is short (84 pages) but its you-are-there feeling allows you to discover artifacts, explore ‘apartments’ found, and make conclusions about Oñate’s intrepid group.”
—Book Talk, New Mexico Book League
“It is fortunate that Florence Hawley Ellis and the Museum of Anthropology at Ghost Ranch have produced this monograph now. The National Park Service is preparing a study of possible alternatives to commemorate Spanish colonization in New Mexico, and the council of San Juan Pueblo has expressed an interest in the study. Since they will evaluate suggested Park Service alternatives with a view toward including San Juan and San Gabriel in possible presentations of the Pueblo Indians’ view of Spanish colonization, Ellis’ discussion of her discoveries at San Gabriel could not have been more opportune.
“The book is a short, entertaining introduction to Ellis’ work at San Gabriel and is the second in a series on the excavations. The first was When Cultures Meet: Remembering San Gabriel del Yungue Oweenge (Santa Fe: Sunstone Press, 1987). There, Ellis presented a summary of her fieldwork at San Gabriel, but the present monograph discusses the excavations and their results in more detail, at a popular level rather than as a formal report. Perhaps future volumes will offer a full technical presentation of the results of the project.
“The principal topic of discussion in San Gabriel del Yungue is the area of the church, the probable convento, and adjacent Spanish-rebuilt rooms. The first section gives a brief but detailed discussion of the principal historical references to Spanish occupation of the site. The second section summarizes archaeological work on the site and its slow recognition as the location of San Gabriel. The third and fourth sections briefly state the results of excavating the west mound and a portion of the east mound north of the convento area. The second half of the book is devoted to a moderately detailed discussion of what was found in the area of the ‘Spanish Apartments,’ convento, and church. This information is unique and very welcome. The volume ends with a short but effective bibliography and index. This little monograph is of great importance to those interested in the methods and remains of Spanish colonization and should not be overlooked.”
—James E. Ivey, New Mexico Historical Review